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“Great praise the Duke of Marlbro' won,
And our good Prince Eugene.”
Said little Wilhelmine.
“And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win.”
Quoth little Peterkin.
QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION 1. Where was the Battle of father tell them of a single Blenheim fought ?
good thing this war accom2. Between whom was it plished ? fought?
| 8. Why were the children disap3. Which side won the battle? pointed with the grand4. What did the grandfather father's answers ? call the battle?
9. What two classes of persons 5. What had he always heard do the grandfather and the battle called ?
the children represent? 6. What did the children want 10. What do people want to to know?
know nowadays before 7. Why could not the grand they go to war?
THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH
HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
You have, of course, seen a “smithy” or blacksmith shop. You have seen the blacksmith, with his sleeves rolled up over his muscular arms, take a piece of black iron, poke it into the coals, and turn it over till he had it placed just to suit him. You have seen him take the long handle of his bellows and work it up and down, while the air from the bellows blew the coals around the iron into a fire so hot that soon the piece of iron showed white hot. Then you have seen him take the iron out of the fire with a pair of long pincers, lay it on the big black anvil and pound it with his hammer, while the bright sparks flew everywhere, like the chaff from a threshing floor when a farmer, in olden times, used to beat the grains of wheat out of the heads of grain, and let the wind blow the chaff away.
Such a smithy or blacksmith shop stood by the side of the street, under a great chestnut tree, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used to pass every day on his way to Harvard College where he was a teacher or professor. In this poem, he describes the smith or blacksmith.
Let us now turn to the poem and in stanzas 1 and 2, read the description of the blacksmith. Let us see him. Let us see his “ large and sinewy hands,” as they grasp his tongs and his hammer. Let us see his powerful, brawny arms, whose muscles
“Are strong as iron bands."
Let us see his tanned face and his long, crisp, black hair. And let us notice that —
“ His brow is wet with honest sweat;
He earns whate'er he can,
For he owes not any man.”
Mr. Longfellow intends to tell us in these lines that all honest work, faithfully done, is noble, and that this blacksmith is a free man, —
“For he owes not any man."
In the remaining stanzas of the poem, the poet tells us of the daily life of the blacksmith, -how “week in, week out, from morn till night,” he keeps bravely at his work. The poet means us to see from this that only those persons who keep thus bravely at their life-task can be happy or do their duty. (Stanza 3.)
In stanza 4, see the —
" — children coming home from school
Look in at the open door.”
Let us, with them —
" — catch the burning sparks that ily
Like chaff from a threshing-floor."
In stanza 5, let us go to church with the blacksmith and his family. Let us see him and his sons as they sit in their pew, listening to the sermon. Let us watch his face as —
“He hears his daughter's voice, Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.”
Then (stanza 6), as he looks at his daughter, and hears her sweet voice as she sings, she reminds him of her mother, his wife, long since dead. The look of gladness fades from his face as he thinks of her, —
“And with his hard, rough hand he wipes
A tear out of his eye.” And so, —
“ Toiling, — rejoicing, — sorrowing,
Onward through life he goes.” But his simple life, the poet thinks, is worth while as an example to us, for —
“ Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close; — " and that is a necessary thing in the life of every one, if he wishes to find happiness, for —
“Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose.” By this, the poet means to tell us that only he who " attempts something” and who keeps on bravely working at it until it is “done,” can ever earn a “night's repose.” Now by “repose,” the poet does not mean a “ night's sleep,” for “repose ” means something more than sleep. It means the perfect rest that can come only to him who knows that he has done bravely in completing the task which the day has brought to him. The lines, –
“ Something attempted, something done,
Has earned a night's repose,” are the keynote of the poem. And whoever lives daily these noble words is living a life worth while.
In stanza 8, the poet, deeply impressed with the noble lesson of the simple life of the blacksmith, whom he calls “my worthy friend,” thanks him for “ the lesson he has taught,"; for each one of us must, " at the flaming forge of life,” by hard and patient work, hammer out into “ something done” –
“ Each burning deed and thought." It is not enough simply to read and to understand this poem. Unless it sets us to thinking seriously about our own lives, and causes us to ask ourselves whether we have —
. “Something attempted, something done,” the lesson that was intended for us has missed us, and we have not really read the poem. The lives of such men as “ The Village Blacksmith” profit us little if they only excite our admiration. They profit us much if, in our daily tasks, we, too, —
“ Each morning see some task begin,
Each evening see it close;
Has earned a night's repose.” Learn the meanings of the following words : village smithy: the village sledge (slěj): a heavy hammer blacksmith shop.
used by a blacksmith. the smith : the blacksmith. forge (fõrj): the place in which sinewy hands (sĩn'u-1): strong, a blacksmith heats iron or
powerful hands in which the steel. tendons or “cords” show sexton: a person who rings the plainly.
bell of a church, and who has bellows (běl'oz): a framework charge of the building and
covered with leather, which,' the churchyard. when compressed by a lever, parson: a preacher. forces air into a blacksmith's choir (kwir): a group of persons fire, thus making the fire grow who sing in a church. hotter.
| Paradise (păr'a-dis): Heaven.